The End Child Poverty Coalition in Scotland made the call in its “Manifesto for Ending Child Poverty”, which was launched today, and said it could lift a further 20,000 children out of poverty.
The document sets out key asks ahead of the Holyrood elections in May, and puts a doubling of the £10 weekly payment at the top of the list.
The new payment is due to start next month for low income families with children under the age of six, but the group of poverty, children's and women’s organisations have warned that “it will not go far enough in helping to meet Scotland’s child poverty reduction targets”. They claim that by increasing the payment to £20 per week another 20,000 children could be helped.
The Coalition is also calling for all parties to commit to bolstering other support for low income families, including by increasing the value of School Clothing Grants and Best Start Grants, more investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund to ensure crisis support is adequate and accessible, a guarantee of “holistic whole family support” to those needing help, increasing financial support to families with No Recourse to Public Funds and the delivery of a child poverty-focused labour market policy, including action to tackle the gender pay gap.
Launching the manifesto, John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “Even before Covid-19, almost one in four children in Scotland were growing up in the grip of poverty. Now, the pandemic has pulled families even deeper into poverty, while many more have been swept into poverty for the first time. A rising tide of child poverty now threatens to overwhelm many in our communities.
“That’s why we have set out this range of measures that would help to stem that tide, by putting much-needed cash into the pockets of families who are struggling to stay afloat. We urge all political parties to commit to the action we’ve set out, and to use the next Scottish Parliament to loosen the grip of poverty on the lives of Scotland’s children.”
Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of Close the Gap added: “The existing inequalities women face in the labour market means they’ve been hardest hit by Covid-19 job disruption. The pandemic has starkly illuminated the link between women’s in-work poverty and child poverty. Women who were already struggling are now under enormous financial pressure as they and their families are pushed into further and deeper poverty.
“The End Child Poverty Coalition manifesto calls on Scotland’s political parties to commit to bold action to reduce child poverty. Close the Gap welcomes the focus on substantive action to address women’s inequality in the labour market including tackling women’s low pay and boosting the provision of funded childcare. Ensuring economic recovery policy-making prioritises measures to build a labour market that works for women is a necessary step in tackling the growing child poverty crisis.”